Introducing D21 Director Alan Warburton

Introducing D21 Director Alan Warburton

On July 4th I (Val Adolph) spent some time talking with our new District Director, Alan Warburton, asking him about his plans for the new Toastmaster year. He started out by saying: “I believe that every Toastmaster deserves to belong to a Distinguished club. If we want all Toastmasters to have a rich, rewarding experience we have to help clubs in every way we can to be Distinguished. We must work together with our focus on this.”

Tell me about the importance of having clubs be Distinguished.
“We start this new Toastmasters year drastically down in membership – last year we had a net loss of 13 clubs over the year. This membership loss shows up clearly in the low number of Distinguished clubs because many clubs last year met many of their educational goals but lacked the necessary number of members to qualify for the DCP.”

“At Club Officer Training we found that most club executives set goals for 2016-2017 to make their clubs Distinguished with a membership significantly higher than 20. This shows they understand that this is where they need to be.”

How will you help clubs achieve Distinguished status?
“We know that our problem this past year has been the significant decrease in membership. It is also our solution. We need to focus on membership, membership, membership. It needs to be the main thing and continue to be the main thing throughout the year.”

“This year, we will put strategies in place to help clubs hold exciting meetings where members learn and grow. At the moment we have 37% of our clubs with 20 or more members. We’d like to increase this to 60% or more of our clubs with 20+ members. If we can do this we’ll have the “buzz’ of success.”

“We also have an organized, cohesive plan to charter new clubs both community and corporate. We have exciting District initiatives to add 12 – 15 new clubs this year.”

“If clubs are to survive and thrive we have to build in a system of support. It might be other clubs helping or a SMART team helping them to help themselves.”

What are SMART teams?
“One idea that Ted Corcoran – he was the keynote speaker at the Spring conference – brought to us was the idea of having a SMART team in each Division – one that Sponsors, Mentors And Rescues clubs as a Team. It is an excellent concept and one we need to put in place here to focus on the needs of clubs.”

“SMART teams rely on strong, committed leaders, often people who don’t necessarily have any official position. There’s a lot of expertise out there, capable members, very aware, strong, committed people who would be happy to help where they can.”

Can members expect strong leadership this year?
“My plan is to have a personal call with each Division Director each month to see where each Division is going and to brainstorm ideas to maintain strong clubs. Last year a number of clubs were on the edge of the cliff – unfortunately, with insufficient coaching support they just fell off. That’s where working together can be significant – clubs need to support each other with strong clubs helping weaker ones so that every Toastmaster has a positive experience.”

Where will the focus be this year?
“Our focus this year is on our clubs building their membership strongly. We have asked each club to set specific goals in the area of membership and they have set really impressive goals. If clubs accomplish their goals … we will all be winners.”

“It’s important that we bring back the excitement, energy, teamwork (teamwork is huge!) and willingness to support each other. Toastmasters is fun! Let’s make our meetings the highlight of every member’s week. “I hope that people will feel the excitement this year as we work together for success. It’s fun being part of a really good organization. It results in a strong feeling of pride, not just to be a Toastmaster but to be a Toastmaster from D21. We can achieve this together.”

At the end of the interview I asked Alan to talk about himself for a couple of minutes. Here is what he told me:

“Bev and I love to travel and we spend lots of time with the grandkids. I cycle and take long walks with the dog. Alan and DogOur dog is called Roscoe – he’s an 80-lb. yellow Lab with tons of energy. He’s an incredibly loyal friend and a delight to walk every day. “I’ve done long cycle rides in the past – a couple of years ago I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer from Vancouver to Seattle. I’ve done 50 – 150K rides with my daughter, she’s a very good cyclist.”

(This article is based on an interview with Alan Warburton, July 4th 2016)